21 Days/ 21 Poems: A Poem About AIDS
I Keep Coming Back to This Longing
to be larger than my life.
To do something more than go on day by day
within the limits of my understanding:
AZT’s four-hour clock,
the lovely buttered bodies of the disappearing men
who in loving each other are loving, not death
but the life which rises to meet it, when it must,
just as the land’s edge seems to tilt
raising itself to meet the sky
and the sky settles thick as a heavy snow
into the body’s crevices--
the sand striated with the branching tracks of birds
my life planted among the falling lives
“I Keep Coming Back to This Longing” by Ruth L. Schwartz. Accordion Breathing and Dancing. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996.
I have always been amazed at Ms. Schwartz’s courage in writing about AIDS and “embodiments of human fallibility.” In the face of this scourge that has taken the lives of so many friends, she can write such delicate lines: “the lovely buttered bodies of the disappearing men.” Out of the brutality of the disease, she celebrates the beautiful: “my life planted among the falling lives.” These are poems of compassion.
Ruth L. Schwartz (born 1962 Geneva, New York) is an American poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Dear Good Naked Morning (Autumn House Press, 2005). She graduated from Wesleyan University, with a B.A., from the University of Michigan, with an M.F.A., from the University of Integrative Learning with a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology. The San Francisco Bay Area has been Ruth's chosen home since 1985; she has also traveled extensively in Latin America, and speaks fluent Spanish.
She has taught at Cleveland State University, Goddard College, Mills College, California State University-Fresno, California College of the Arts. She teaches at Ashland University, and offers workshops and one-on-one mentoring on the theme of The Writer As Shaman nationwide. She lives in Oakland, California.